Jump Start # 3462
2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
In our verse today the apostle sets before us the attributes and approach one needs to have as he comes to the word of God. He comes as a workman. He comes as a workman who does his job well. He comes, not looking for loopholes, new ideas, agendas, but accuracy. The goal is to be accurate.
Being accurate. Being correct. Being right. This matters in life and it matters with God. Just close doesn’t cut it. If you are parking your car in a crowded lot, you want to be accurate. Otherwise, you’ll have some scrapes on your car. When it comes to taking tests, you want to be accurate. Otherwise, you’ll flunk. You want your doctor to be accurate with your medical exam. You want the payroll to be accurate with your check. When you go to the bank and cash a check, you want the teller to be accurate. In ballgames, it is essential that the time keeper is accurate. The final seconds can determine the outcome of a game.
God wants us to be accurate with His word. Here are some lessons for us:
First, all of this implies that there is an absolute answer. God’s interpretation is more important than your interpretation. God has written in such a way that we can understand. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Don’t fall for the common idea that understanding God’s word is vague, fuzzy and no two people can agree. Really? What that leads to is that God is a sorry writer. We can understand physics. We can understand Shakespeare. We can know the plot of a movie. We can understand poetry, music and art. But, we can’t understand the Bible? Jesus said you can know it. I trust Jesus.
Accuracy implies something right and something wrong. You can be right. You can handle it right. You can be accurate.
Second, how accurately one handles the Bible builds credibility or distrust. A verse misused can say anything. Our job, like that workman, is to handle it accurately. Put that verse back into the context and see what it says. Some things are hard to understand. The Bible says that, even about Paul’s writings (2 Pet 3). However, there are some things that are not hard to understand. The organization of a congregation (Phil 1:1) is pretty straight forward. No delegates. No hierarchy. No earthly headquarters. Overseers, deacons and saints—that’s it. And, if a person can’t get that straight, why should I trust him on other things? It’s not how cute someone is, how popular they are, but rather, how accurate they are. When someone puts something out in the public, we ought to search the Scriptures, as the Bereans did, to see if it is so. If it isn’t so, then, we’ll throw red flags, caution and be uneasy with what else he may say.
A while back someone recommend a very popular writer to me. He’s amazing I was told. Some are declaring that he is a modern C.S. Lewis. Brilliant and insightful were some words used to describe his writings. So I looked into it. I quickly found that he was not accurate with organization, salvation, inspiration, homosexuality and the operation of the church. He missed it on all of those. Now, how can I trust someone who is so wrong on those things to be right on Revelation or the Holy Spirit?
Accuracy builds credibility or it creates distrust. Those that do things in the public forum must understand that people have a right and an obligation to measure what we are saying with the word of God. Are we accurate? And, if we keep fumbling the ball over and over, it won’t be long before people will no longer trust us. Such a person will be known as inaccurate. And, the boiled down version of inaccurate is simply wrong. He is wrong. He is wrong because he is not accurate. He is wrong because he does not handle the word of God rightly.
Accuracy is something that God expects and God requires. It is not attacking a person when public statements are found to be inaccurate, out of context and misleading. Such a workman ought to be ashamed. That’s what our passage demands.
Third, this may be one reason why James says not many be teachers. Some are apt to teach anything and everything. We are responsible for what we say. It’s not who I am or who I am a part of, that matters. What matters is am I handling the word as a workman, who is giving his all to the master, the Lord.
The field of church history has repeatedly shown through every generation, people who have not handled the word of God accurately. Doctrines have been created out of error. Whole movements have started because of inaccurately handling God’s word. The religious landscape today is a grand example of this. If every group was handling the word of God accurately, would we all be so different?
Accuracy is not determined by me, you or us. Ask anyone in any church, and they will tell you that they think what they are doing is right. No preacher begins his sermon by announcing, “the things I say to you today are not accurate.” Who then determines what is right? If it is not me, not you, not any of us, who then? The who is God. God’s word can be interpreted to bring out a consistent understanding that God wants us to have. If not, then what’s the hope of ever being accurate? It’s a learning process. It’s growth, maturity and study. Through the years, as one learns, he changes his thinking. He sees what God is saying.
Going to God’s word is important. But equally important is handling that word accurately. Use Bible words the way God uses them. Allow passages to interpret themselves. Keep things within the context. Understand who is speaking and who is the audience. Know the different forms of literature found within the Bible, from historical narrative, to prophecy, to apocalyptic to figurative. One doesn’t approach the book of Acts the same way one reads the visions of Ezekiel. The workman will know this. And, just as a modern workman reaches into his tool box for different tools, so the student of God’s word, looks at a text through the lens in which it was written, knowing the culture and the people who were first to receive that message.
The parable of the wise and foolish virgins, set in a scene of a wedding, doesn’t look like American weddings. The wise workman sees that. He understands that. He is looking at things through the Jewish eyes of a first century disciple.
Our feelings, our thoughts, and our wishes can color how we see the Bible. Keep those things at a distance and allow the Word to speak for itself.
The goal of the master workman is to come to understand God accurately.