IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
2nd Timothy 2:15
TIMOTHY was to divide rightly the word of God. This every Christian minister must do if he would make full proof of his ministry, and if he would be clear of the blood of his hearers at the last great day.
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
…rightly dividing the word of truth. Well if there is a way to “rightly divide the Word, there must be a way to “wrongly” divide the Word.
It is of most importance that you and I understand the Bible. Because it’s God’s Word, revealing God’s will, there is nothing more important in our life than to understand what it says.
Since the Bible was given to reveal the truth and not to hide it, then God’s desire is that we understand it.
2 Timothy 1:7-8 Paul was encouraging Timothy not to be afraid of his opposition, but to be willing to endure afflictions for the sake of the gospel.
In 2 Timothy 1:7 –8 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;–
When we study the Word of God, we are just like brain surgeons. We need to interpret it accurately with the utmost care. This is what the apostle Paul meant when he told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15, to“rightly divide the word of truth.” The word rightly dividing in this verse means “cutting it straight” Cutting too much or too little can produce disastrous results.
Christians must strive to rightly interpret and apply God’s Word in love. The right interpretation and application lead to eternal blessings. The wrong interpretation and application lead to disastrous consequences.
Bible study is very important, but 2 Timothy 2:15 is not just a command to study the Bible. Being an approved workman involves much more. Paul wanted Timothy to understand that to be a workman that God could approve, he would have to be diligent in his service to God. God is not the kind of Master that accepts shoddy work! By earnestly applying himself in service, Timothy would not need to be ashamed as he stood before God in the day of judgment. To be that diligent, approved workman, he would have to correctly handle the word of truth, what the King James Version renders, rightly dividing the word of truth. Of necessity, correctly handling the Bible, the word of truth will involve much study, contemplation, and prayer. It will involve bringing an open mind, an open heart, and a faithful life to the word of truth. Implied in the correct handling is the proper understanding of the divisions between the Old and the New Covenants, understanding that the New Testament is the rule of faith and practice for Christians today.
The goal of being an approved workman should be the goal of all of God’s children. In the verses immediately before 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul stressed the importance of living faithfully before God, even to the point of suffering. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us (2 Timothy 2:12). He then told Timothy, Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers (2 Timothy 2:14). The evangelist Timothy was to remind his hearers of the sacrifice of Christ, the need for serving Him, and the need to work diligently to be approved workmen before God. The diligent application of all our energy to the service of God will allow us to join Timothy standing before God without shame. Nothing will help us more to please God than to handle carefully and correctly God’s written word. We should look to the written word of God with the same reverence as the psalmist who wrote, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).
The Bible, like a pharmacy, is full of good medicine yet when we are sick we don’t just walk in and pick up whatever we see first and buy it because not every medicine is prescribed for our particular need. It’s not that ALL the medicine isn’t good it’s just that it might not be appropriate for our illness at that time.
“To take that which is written to one specific group of people living in a particular time frame, under a unique administration (dispensation) and apply it to another equally unique group is a sure recipe for confusion and will always result in misinterpretation of the scriptures.”
Just as it requires natural understanding to know where to place punctuation marks in literature it requires spiritual understanding to discern and divide the changing economies which mark the critical periods of transition in the Scriptures. Rightly dividing the word involves recognizing the pivotal times of change concerning God’s dealings with people, and nations (including the resulting doctrinal changes) which take place as the Bible narration unfolds.
Learning to Separate Truth from Truth.
The first and most obvious, division in the Scriptures is the natural separation that exists between the Old and New Testament. The fact that the Bible is a progressive revelation necessitates numerous additional periods of transition and contrast, some obvious, others not easily discerned.
Another example of the natural divisions in the Scriptures is provided by the four gospels which are DIVIDED into four different accounts. The four gospels deal with the earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ…each portrays Him in a different light, from a different perspective, somewhat different character:
MATTHEW– (A.D. 37) Written by a Jew, to Jews about a Jew. This piece of the puzzle portrays Jesus Christ as the long-awaited Messiah, the son of David, the Heir of Israel’s Throne. Christ the King (Matt.2:2), offers His Kingdom to the nation Israel (Matt.4:17 & 10:5-7). Everything in this particular gospel contributes to this central theme. Percentage of material in common with other gospels: (56% while 44% is unique).
MARK– (A.D. 57-63) Mark’s gospel describes Christ as the Divine Servant who has come to serve and suffer (Mark10:45), Jesus’ ministry of obedience to His Father. Everything in the second gospel brings out the characteristics of a faithful servant. (93%…7%).
LUKE-(A.D. 58-60) Luke portrays Jesus as the “son of man” (Luke 19:10), emphasizing the humanity of the Saviour, presenting Him as the perfect man. (42%…58%).
JOHN– (A.D. 88-90) The central theme of John’s gospel is the Deity of the Saviour (John 1:1). The fourth gospel declares Jesus as “the Son of God…” the Heavenly One come down to earth. The Son of the Father made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Only eight percent of the material in John’s gospel is in common with the other gospels; the remaining ninety-two percent is unique! (8%…92%).
The differing accounts of the four gospels illustrate the fact that every book of the Bible has a prominent and dominant theme unique to itself. Every book in the Bible has its own particular purpose and place, which like the numerous pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, must be carefully examined so as to understand where it fits and how it contributes to the emerging picture. Therefore we are commanded to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim.2:15).
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