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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

truth and error 3: study, v. 15

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
How shall I be “diligent to present [myself] approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed?” How do I focus on the foundational truths and not get distracted or re-directed by word-battles? It is by “accurately handling the word of truth.”

Do you hear what is being said? These scriptures, this collection of words, are the “word of truth.” It is not wishy-washy or vacillating, or subject to bending to my own interpretation. Rather, it is God’s Word and God is Truth.

This verse also makes clear that human interpretation is involved, for it is we imperfect human beings who “handle” this Word in preaching, teaching, reading, and study. There is such a thing as “accurate” interpretation, so also “inaccurate” interpretation. To find God’s truth, though, we do not look within, to personal definitions, feelings, or even experience. Rather, we learn how to read, study, and apply scripture with consistency with itself.

Handling scripture accurately is not easy or obvious, but neither is it mysterious and out of reach. There are portions that speak clearly to the youngest child or simplest mind, and there are parts that will challenge the greatest intellect. It helps to come to scripture with an open mind and heart, but God’s Word can also penetrate the hardest heart. I would say, however, that to accurately handle God’s Word, one must trust in Jesus Christ – that is, be a Christian. For it is Christ himself to whom the Scripture witnesses. To read them apart from Jesus makes no sense at all.

In light of that, I would appeal to you to ground your children’s vocabulary and thoughts in the solid Word of God. And the need is no less for youth and adults.

In my own church Sunday school, worship, and Wednesday night studies offer a regular opportunity for study. And there are more opportunities above and beyond those – for prayer, study, service, and fellowship. But that grounding in God’s Word is crucial to a healthy faith. And, as the rest of verse 15 explains, that grounding in God’s Word also forms us into approved workers or servants of God.

God is on the move. If we ask the questions, “What is God doing and how can I be a part of it?” then we are asking to be used by God as a “worker.” That’s what is in view here. This is not an appeal to hole one’s self away from the world and study ancient manuscripts as the world passes by any more than the realization from Hebrews 11 that earth is not our home means we aren’t active, faithful disciples here and now. Rather, this passage describes the kind of men, women, and young people God delights to use in His mission to the world – those who are rooted in Scripture, committed to hearing, studying, and applying it.

Posts in this "Truth and Error" series:
1 - intro and core doctrine, 2 timothy 2.14-26
2 - word-wrangling, v. 14
3 - study, v. 15
4 - a local challenge, vv. 16-18
5 - church pictures, vv. 19-21
6 - empty talk, vv. 16-18
7 - immaturity and distraction, v. 22
8 - false teaching, v. 23
9 - kind to all, v. 24
10 - able to teach, patient, gentle, vv. 24-25
11 - gracious hope, vv. 25b-26a
12 - enemy clarification, v. 26b

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