Sometimes it's very easy to skip the significance of a word. When the rest of the sentence is so full of important meaning, then it's almost easy to neglect the odd word here and there, thinking of it almost more like filler or simply a linking word. This evening as I was reading Calvin as an afterthought after most of my sermon preparation was done I realized that I was almost doing that with an important word in Sunday's text. It's not that I was neglecting the word; in fact the word in question is actually one of my 3 points. Rather it's that I was neglecting an important implication of the meaning of the word. Happily, a bit of last minute Calvin reading proved profitable.
The word in question is, in fact, profitable. The verse is 2 Timothy 3:16. It's an important verse, with lots of important implications, and so it wouldn't be hard not to notice that one little word like profitable was not getting its full voice.
What Calvin points out is that if all Scripture is profitable, then it should be used profitably. Scripture is not there to satisfy our curiosity. It is not a source for our speculations. It is not there to give us something to talk about or debate. Scripture is inspired by God to be profitable.
I suppose Calvin was reacting to the speculations of the scholastics (you know, how many angels can fit on the head of a pin and that sort of thing). Yet, even if the scholastics and their speculations are no longer with us, his point is still very valid. How many Bible studies have you not been to where someone has been more concerned about speculation than about the clear meaning of the text? How many Christians are more concerned with the 'secret things' that 'belong to the LORD' than with 'the things that are revealed' which 'belong to us and to our children' (Deuteronomy 29:29)? Sometimes speculation can seem more fun than actually putting what the Bible clearly teaches into practice, but it's certainly less important. All Scripture is profitable. And all Scripture should be used profitably.