(2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)
I am going to come out of the gate swinging... We go everywhere seeking answers and entertain all kinds of conjectures when the truth is right in front of us bound in black, white and red and labeled “B-I-B-L-E.” We will seek out every ridiculous source of information, even some reputable ones as we “answer shop” the latest of life’s questions. Many “answer shop” in an attempt to find a source that will give them the “answer” they want to hear. In our rebellious hearts, we have a real desire to have smooth things spoken to us as the prophet Isaiah says, “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, ‘See not;’ and to the prophets, ‘Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.’” (Isaiah 30:9-10 KJV)
We have false prophets all around us, so we can certainly heap up and buy into whatever lies we would like to believe at the moment. The question begs to be asked how many of us go to the Bible first to see what God has to say on the issue? Do not mistake my words, I do not totally oppose the use of the internet or commentary books, I just think we need to make the Bible our first stop and our final authority. We should not turn to the internet and volumes of commentaries to find an answer we like when Scripture is clear. I, myself, use such resources to glean insight into history, cultural context and to see if what I am understanding Scripture to say is in alignment with the faithful of all ages.
The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15 to “Study to show ourselves approved.” How can we study to show ourselves approved if we never crack open the very tool that can help us both study and make us approved? The Bible is an integrated message system, a collection of sixty-six books penned by over 40 different authors over the course of some fifteen-hundred years. The very fact that the One True Author, The Holy Spirit of God, used more than 40 authors over such a span of time actually authenticates it. One would have to be unbound by the constraints of space and time to declare the end from the beginning and allow the individual writing styles of more than forty human authors while maintaining the message and the integrity of the Scriptures without error. God Himself directed the human mind to pen exactly what He wanted down to the very finest details. No wonder Jesus Himself said in Matthew 5:18 that, “‘til Heaven and Earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled.”
The reason we can study to show ourselves approved is because God used those human authors to speak to our human hearts and minds today. The Scripture needs to be our first stop and final authority on the quest for Truth.
What does it mean to be “A workman that needeth not be ashamed?” Just like Christ, we have to be about our Father’s business in a way that brings glory and honor to the Father. If we claim to have the answers to all life’s problems, then we better be able to articulate what we believe and to defend the faith. God may not need us to be His defense attorney, but we are absolutely called to be a witness to the power of God to transform our lives with the Gospel of Christ. We have to be honest, how must it seem to the unbelieving world when we can not even articulate the reason for and meaning of our faith in Christ? It is something to be ashamed of when we can not give a reason for the hope that is in us, especially when we could simply study to show ourselves approved to be a workman who does not need to be ashamed!
Lastly, we must “Rightly divide the Word of Truth.” We have to know how to interpret Scripture, or rather we have to know that Scripture MUST interpret itself. Plenty of false teachers and pseudo “scholars” play fast and loose with Scripture, so we the faithful must practice exegesis which means allowing Scripture to speak to us. Too often we find that people want to read into Scripture, that is called eisegesis, and it is always inappropriate for us to tell God what His Word means.