The Gymnasium for the Soul

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

What does it mean to be “trained in righteousness” and what bearing does this have on making disciples? In The Trellis and the Vine, Colin Marshall and Tony Payne expound on these verses to demonstrate the importance of passing on sound doctrine to those we are discipling. Marshall and Payne point out that the word for “training” used in these verses conveys the idea of the kind of training a father would exert over a son in order to shape and mold him more into his character (p. 71). This can be true of human fathers and our heavenly Father as he transforms us more into the character of Christ.

Marshall and Payne go on to further explain this:

“By being ‘trained’ in righteousness, the man of God is made competent or proficient by the Scriptures, which equip him for every good work. It’s the ‘training’ in righteousness that leads to the proficiency, but the proficiency here is not a particular skill—such as being able to teach clearly, or lead a small group, or whatever—but a quality of character and behaviour based on the sound doctrine of the Scriptures.”

As Christians, when we make disciples, we are doing more than teaching them the latest technique or program or “Ten Steps to effectively sharing your faith” plan. Although those things have their place, we should primarily be concerned with teaching men and women, boys and girls the Word of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to form them and shape them more into the character of Jesus Christ. And in order to do this, we ourselves must know the Word of God. So, train yourselves in righteousness in this way. Go into the gymnasium for the soul and workout your mind and your heart to become more competent in the Scriptures for your good and for God’s glory. We cannot expect to train others in righteousness unless we are training ourselves. As Marshall and Payne go on to say, “The heart of training is not to impart a skill, but to impart sound doctrine…Good biblical training results in a godly life based on sound, health-giving teaching.”

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