The Word of Truth; April 1, 2020

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

The whole 2nd letter of Paul to Timothy is deeply touching, because it display’s Paul’s father-heart toward his spiritual son. He is trusting God to do the work, but he wants Timothy to be fully cooperative. Like any parent, he would like to be right there to help Timothy out in every situation, but they are already geographically separated, and Paul knows it won’t be long before they are in different worlds entirely. Even Paul had difficulty letting go of his children! Here we have advice that is given lip service, at least, in many if not most seminaries, but sadly, it stops at lip service in far too many. At the time Paul wrote this the New Testament was not yet codified, and he had no idea this very letter would be included. One teacher’s words were taken as being as authoritative as those of another, and false teaching spread like gangrene, as he says in verse 17. (The Japanese says, “like cancer.”) That made the instructions in this verse all the more vital, and it was why the New Testament was indeed codified later, so that people could know what was indeed “the word of truth” and what was imagination and lies. Today, despite the presence of the New Testament, we have people actively twisting the truth, just as they did in Paul’s day, and words like gangrene and cancer are no less appropriate to describe it. Every pastor and Bible teacher needs to remember James’ words: “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1) Sadly, many “workmen” will indeed be ashamed when the time comes to judge their work. Paul certainly didn’t want that for his son Timothy.

This verse really hits home for me because I tend to be very focused on the Word, on the Bible being God’s truth to and through me. That has led to some problems in my ministry, because I tend to preach every time I open my mouth, and the Church is far more than just a place for preaching. It came as a shock to me, early in my study of the Coaching Movement, to have it said that my attitude tended to produce a pastor-centered church, rather than a Jesus-centered church. I argued that one internally for quite a while! I have come around to understand what they were talking about, but at the same time I feel that the Bible is to be the guide for absolutely everything. My desire is that every believer will have an unshakable habit of taking in the Word daily, allowing God to speak to them through it, and then putting it into practice. When that happens I won’t need to preach, because everyone will “Let the word of Christ dwell in [them] richly as [they] teach and admonish [one] another with all wisdom, and as [they] sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in [their] hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16) That is indeed correctly handling the Word of truth!

Father, thank You for the confirmation the other day that at least one of my physical children is being obedient to this. I do pray that as I am obedient to it myself, all of my spiritual children would internalize it as well, so that the Body of Christ would indeed be built up and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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