PRINCIPLE 32 | STUDY TO SHOW YOURSELF APPROVED
2 Timothy Chapter 2:15 says, “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.” There’s another translation that says “study to show yourself approved.” That one speaks to me especially because I want to talk today about the degree to which we study Scripture. Let me ask you, what is your Bible study rhythm? I think it’s presumptuous to think we can float through life and not be anchored in Scripture, and still become the people God wants us to be. As we move through the rest of this summer and get ready for Fall as a church, and as individual Christians, I want to challenge us to think about the dedication, devotion, and effort we put into the study of scripture.
As Paul continues on in his writing to Timothy, he talks about heresies; people who have lost their way and are not standing on the firm foundation of God’s Word. Paul addresses how problematic this is. In fact, he even goes so far as to say that some of these people are spreading teaching like “gangrene.” That catches your attention because that’s not a word you see often in Scripture. The Bible actually talks a lot about heresies, fallacies, untruths, and false teaching – and it warns us to be vigilant concerning these things.
The antidote to heresy and false teachings is to rely on God’s Holy Spirit and to pray and ask God for wisdom and clarity. The anecdote also includes – and I think most importantly – becoming students of God’s Word; regularly spending time in God’s Word. I shared a few weeks ago that we need to gather together every weekend. There are so many church services you can choose from here at BCA and via Facebook Live. You can plug in just about any time! Gather with us each weekend as we walk through Ephesians and James. It’s very important for each of us to be in the Word of God daily, so if you don’t have another plan, make it your plan to dial in with the rest of your church family in reading through Ephesians.
I also want to challenge you, as I did a few weeks ago, to really participate in an ongoing Bible study of one kind or another. Here’s the good news – we’re going to be offering over a dozen classes at/through BCA in the Fall. We’re a big “small group” church, and we’ve really tried to make it a part of our culture to host Bible studies and small groups in people’s homes. Of course, this is a unique season and it’s harder to do that right now. So in this season, there are going to be a few in-person classes, a lot of classes online via Zoom, and many opportunities for you to plug in, if you’re willing to make it a priority. I want to encourage you to do so.
Now, there are many other Bible studies outside of our church that you can be a part of, and many of you are – and that’s awesome. The point is to be plugged into God’s Word, so we want to set the buffet table and give you every opportunity to really dive in and participate. And that’s coming up this Fall.
Every week gather. Every day be in God’s Word. And also participate weekly in an ongoing Bible study of one kind or another. I think this is a great recipe for growth. It’s a good move forward for many, many people with regard to being faithful and doing what Paul says here, studying “to show yourself approved.”
Let me illustrate the importance of this truth this way: Some years ago, I was on a boat and a storm picked up and the waters were just going crazy. We were out of control. I was a little fearful of how things were going to go. We were drifting. We really didn’t have control over where we were actually going to go, despite knowing where we wanted to go. The good news is, we finally made it. But we weren’t anchored, we weren’t steadfast, we weren’t firm! Things weren’t moving in the right direction and it could have ended badly for us.
The Word of God is our anchor. We need to be careful that we don’t get our theology from Facebook, Twitter, politics/politicians, or the media. We are to get our theology from God’s Word – and God’s Word alone. The Bible is not just ink on a page – you’ve heard me say that a million times; it’s the living, breathing Word of God. If we are not in the Word, really anchored in the Word, then we are going to be adrift at sea, vulnerable and susceptible to any kind of weird idea, doctrine, influence, or inspiration. We need to be students of and measure everything by the Word of God.
I see a lot of people quoting scripture that is misguided, misused. You can proof-text, pulling Scriptures from here and there in the Bible, applying them to almost any belief you want to trumpet and kind of make your own theology. But we need to go directly to the Word of God and draw out God’s idea – and that requires study. Study to show yourself approved; a workman rightly dividing the word of truth. Just think about all those words in verse 15. They are all really crucial points.
A chapter later, in 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul talks about how “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Let me emphasize again something many of you already know – that the Word of God is our anchor. It is our foundation, our firm foundation. The question is, are we students? Are we workman and workwomen who are devoted to growing in the knowledge of God’s Word through faithful study? That’s my challenge today for all of us.