A podcast listener named Koby 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 — 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 saying, “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 so that if people see “Look at the Book” (LAB) and they have another question, and they call you, or they write to you, we can kind of tie together “Look at the Book” and “Ask Pastor John” this way.
Wise for Salvation
Let’s 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 for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Now Koby says, “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 Koby 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 Scriptures 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 LAB — faith. In other words, if faith is essential to salvation, which it is, then if the Scriptures are going to lead to salvation, the Scriptures must do it by awakening or producing or yielding faith.
So Koby 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 10:17 “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
“If the Scriptures are going to lead to salvation, the Scriptures must do it by awakening or producing or yielding faith.”
Let me just close with one application beyond what Koby 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. The goal of the law — and I think “law” means the instruction of God in the Old Testament — is Christ “for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).
This is how the Scriptures make us wise unto salvation. They prepare our minds and our worldview and our hearts so that when Jesus the Christ is proclaimed, we are ready, we are wise, and we believe and are saved.