To God, As One Approved
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
A workman that needeth not to be ashamed is one who is not afraid to have the master come and inspect his work. In hearty devotion to it, in thoroughness and skill, he presents himself approved to him who employs him. God’s workers are to give diligence to present themselves approved to Him to have their work worthy of Him unto all well-pleasing.
A workman is one who knows his work, who gives himself wholly to it, who is known as a working man, who takes delight in doing his work well. Such every Christian is to be- a workman who makes a study of it to invite and expect the Master’s approval.
“Handling right the word of truth.” The word is a seed, a fire, a hammer, a sword, it is bread, it is light. Workmen in any of these spheres can be our example. In work for God everything depends upon handling the word aright. Therefore it is that personal subjection to the word, and the experience of its power, is spoken of as one of the means of our being completely furnished to every good work.
As one yields himself wholly and heartily to all this, and the true Spirit-filled word gets mastery of his whole being, he becomes a man of God, complete and furnished completely to every good work. He becomes a workman approved of God, who needs not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of God.
And so the man of God has the double mark- his own life wholly molded by the Spirit-breathed word-and his whole work directed by his rightly handling that word.
When we consider the power of the Word of God, we ought to consider the danger of mishandling it. I’m sure we would not be comfortable riding in a car with someone who only knew about the gas pedal but didn’t know anything about the brakes. That may sound silly to us and we might say, “Of course when you’re taught to drive, you’re taught the purpose of both the accelerator and the brake pedals. If someone were to invite you to dinner but only knew how to prepare part of the meal, can you imagine the outcome? Or would you subject yourself to surgery by a doctor who only knew bits and pieces of anatomy and was only partially knowledgeable about the surgical instruments? Would you trust your money to a financial advisor who dropped out of their finance class and only partially understood stock investments? Would you hire a plumber or electrician or mechanic who was only somewhat knowledgeable about their field of work? Of course you wouldn’t do any of the above or at least I don’t think you would knowingly do so and yet we often subject ourselves to those who know little of the Word of God and lots of cultural or social values to speak to our souls about eternal things. In any field a little knowledge is dangerous especially when the one with little knowledge believes and projects that they are completely competent in the subject.
There are a few things that are paramount for us to know concerning the Word of God. The first one is that we have to decide whether the Bible is a collection of stories and opinions expressed by writers who only provided us their views and perceptions or whether is is truly the Word given by God Himself and written down with men of integrity who only wrote what they were given to write.
“All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
This is what the Bible says concerning itself so we either choose to accept the whole of Scripture as “God-breathed” or we find ourselves picking and choosing portions that agree with our own views. The danger of that is the fact that we have been tainted by our sin nature and according to the Bible “our hearts are deceitful.” I think we all can honestly say that there have been those occasions when we followed the impulse of our hearts that we found ourselves in a predicament.
“The heart is deceitful above all things And it is extremely sick; Who can understand it fully and know its secret motives? “I, the Lord, search and examine the mind, I test the heart, To give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.
We dare not trust our own feelings or feeble understanding when it comes to eternal matters for the best of us with the best of intentions will always fall short of the ways of God. What happens when we substitute our own philosophy for the ways of God? What happens when we consider the Bible as a book of suggestions rather than the
Living Word of God? We only have to look at the world of Noah’s day and then look at our world today to see the results of ignoring the teaching of the Bible and substituting our own views in its place.
The Lord saw that the wickedness (depravity) of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination or intent of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. The [population of the] earth was corrupt [absolutely depraved—spiritually and morally putrid] in God’s sight, and the land was filled with violence [desecration, infringement, outrage, assault, and lust for power]. God looked on the earth and saw how debased and degenerate it was, for all humanity had corrupted their way on the earth and lost their true direction.
We read in history of the multitude failed attempts to create a utopian society. The cause of its failure can always be traced to the sin nature in the heart of man. Those who began those utopian communities did so with the best of intentions only to find that the sin of greed ,jealously and self-centeredness soon eroded the peace and happiness.
The other thing that’s important to understand is that the Word of God mishandled has destructive power. In the same way a surgeon’s scalpel can help or damage a human body, so the Word of God handled correctly gives life but when it is twisted brings death. This is why it’s imperative that we read and know the Word. It is unfortunate to find so many that distort, twist and remove from context words from the Bible in order to support their preconceived ideas and ideals. I realize that Scripture often speaks in variance with social norms and it’s teachings are many times politically incorrect, nevertheless it is either the Word of God in the whole or else we have no absolutes or standards of God-accepted behavior. For me, I am not intelligent or educated enough to figure out which parts I can ignore and which parts I must follow. For me it’s either all or none and if I can’t accept the parts that challenge my thinking than I have no assurance of the promises I want to embrace. In other words, if Scripture doesn’t have the authority to tell me how to live in a way that is pleasing to God and to accept that He alone decides what that is without negotiation then I have no foundation on which to place my faith in the promise of heaven and an eternity of blessing.
I would urge us all to become students of the Word of God and let it speak the will of God in every situation in our lives. The observation of this preacher is that one of the greatest challenges facing the church, greater than social issues, or the effects of the pandemic or the environment of the world in which it functions it the biblical illiteracy that has become pervasive as we carefully select only certain portions of Scripture to teach and embrace. My observation as a preacher of 40+ years is that the average Christian knows little to none of the Bible. I don’t mean this to be critical but when we as the church give so little emphasis to Christian Education and so much emphasis to social issues then the ensuing result is church members who are up to date on social matters and illiterate in the things of God. May God help us reverse the course.
Dr. John Thompson