The Deep Things of God

Clyde White

The Deep Things of God

In any Biblical study, the deeper we dig into subject, the more questions those deep truths generate. This is the way it should be.

When questions about the very deep things of God are asked in lessons, I often tell the questioner to just hang in there and listen, because the answers to such questions will usually be answered in the process of continued study.

Most generally when these deep questions are asked, I don’t try to give a detailed answer because such an answer would take hours, and most do not have that kind of time, nor do they really want a detailed answer. The problem is, only a detailed answer to a deep Biblical question will bring any measure of understanding.

For far too long, our churches have, at best, fed their congregations the milk of the Word of God. I fear that even that milk is often only 2% or even fat free! This nutritional intake does not take a great deal of chewing nor does it require a fully developed spiritual digestive system. Don’t get me wrong, the milk of the Word is great and we should partake of it often, but a person cannot develop Spiritual stamina and proper Spiritual growth on milk alone.

Those who have already ventured deeper in the truths of the Word of God find that that there are deeper and deeper truths yet undiscovered. When these experienced students of the Word begin to dig deeper and feed on the meat of the Word found in those depths, they find it requires a great deal of Spiritual chewing to properly digest these deep truths and bring them into usable harmony within their thinking.

That is as it should be! If all truths of the Word of God were easily obtained from a surface reading, there would be no possibility of growing in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord, as commanded in 2 Peter.

2 Peter 3:18 But grow [this is not a suggestion, but a command] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

Simple, Yet Complex

God’s word is amazing, as is all aspect of God’s person and His actions.

Within the confines of God’s word, the elementary or foundation doctrines are easily understood. These elementary aspects of the New Birth are simple and can be accepted by even the mind of a small child. However, the intricate workings of all that was needed to bring about the New Birth are very complicated and the total understanding of such is beyond our thinking, at least in this lifetime.

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

Without taking the time to establish this fact by chasing through the entire Word of God, please understand what this passages is not saying. This passage is not saying that there is no way of entering into an understanding God’s judgments or His ways. Instead, it is saying that no matter how much understanding we gain from the Word of God, there is still more to learn! This feeding on the Word of God is a life-long process and not a single event.

This side of eternity, no human or group of humans will ever gain the full knowledge and understanding of God and His person. However, we are to continue to strive for greater and deeper knowledge and understanding of God’s inexhaustible truths revealed in His Word. We find the more we learn, the more there is to learn. If we can never hope to attain it all, why even try? Because we are to live in and by the truths we obtained through careful study. This process is not for academic excellence; we are to live by the word of God.

Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Methods

Often, after a presentation, people will come to me with question or comments such as:

“I thought I had a good handle on theology, but what you presented just blew me out of the saddle!”

“I’ve read the same passages that you used, why didn’t I see the obvious truth present in them?”

“How can I study in such a manner as to dig out those same truths on my own?”

All of the questions/comments had the common denominator of “Why didn’t I see that?” and “How can I study in such a manner so I can see that?”

These speak to the very heart of real Bible study, so I am going to take a little time and present a proper technique of Bible study. Your style of study may and probably will be different from mine, but the base concept (foundation) must be the same.

Most Bible study and Bible teaching fall into five basic methods:

  • Systematic Theology
  • Topical or Subjective
  • Personal Application
  • Devotional
  • Evangelistic

I’m sure there are other methods and sub-methods that could be added to list, but these 5 cover the spectrum of present day Bible study pretty well.

Any one of these methods can fall under the category of systematic Bible study or teaching. None of these methods are wrong in and of themselves. As a matter of fact all of them are good methods. However, using only one of these methods will lead to false conclusions, and building on those false conclusions will produce false doctrine.

We will not look at as many Scripture references as are really needed for a study of this nature. I will use some Scripture references, I will refer to others, and some others I will assume that you know their content. Even so, there will not be a dearth of Scripture. Having said that, there will probably be more Scripture in this pared down teaching style than 90% of sermons this Sunday.

On the Road to Emmaus

Let’s look at a few passages that will set the stage for In Depth Bible Study.

The background for these next few passages was right after the death and resurrection of Christ. The disciples knew that Christ had died. They had heard from several sources that Christ had been raised from the dead, and was alive. They could not, however, comprehend how such a thing could have happened even though many of them had spent the better part of three years with Christ and heard His teaching on the subject.

In these passages, we will hear in Christ’s own words why they could not understand these deep truths even though they had read them in the Scriptures and had heard them from the very voice of Christ.

Luke 24:13-19 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad? 18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days? 19 And He said to them, What things? And they said to Him, The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people…

These two followers of Christ were walking away from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus. They were talking about things that had happened during the past few days: the trial of Christ, His Crucifixion, His death, burial, etc. They were also talking about how things didn’t work out the way they had planned and they couldn’t figure out why.

Christ joins them as they walk and He asked, “What kind (or manner) of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”

If these men wanted any real answers about spiritual things, they were having the wrong kind (or manner) of conversation. We will see in Christ’s own words later in the passage what was wrong with their conversation, and upon what their conversation should have been based.

It is important to see this because it is the same problem many have today when it comes to Bible study.

I will put their problem in my own words and then we will see how Christ framed their problem. These two were basing their hopes and fears on theology - the theology of the Apostles, before they were indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Remember, the apostles were concerned with who would be greatest in the Kingdom. They believed the Kingdom was going to come soon and they would be number one, number two, number three and so on.

This is what they believed. These two were not basing their hopes and fears on the totality of the Old Testament Scriptures or Christ own words which they had heard over the past few years.

So, let’s continue with the account and please stay alert to what the passages is saying, not what you have heard from others. Keep your focus on what the word of God is saying.

As they walked, these two men related the events of the past few days. In essence, they told Christ that those past circumstances were all bad. They focus on their misplaced expectations rather than what they knew from the Scriptures.

We will not read the text of that conversation, but let’s jump ahead to see what Christ had to say to them about the manner or kind or sort of conversation were having.

Luke 24:25-27 Then He [Christ] said to them, O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Christ was somewhat harsh in his response to them. There are more than eight Greek words translated to “fool,” “foolish,” etc. in the New Testament. This particular Greek word in Luke 24:25 is used only 6 times in the New Testament

Foolish (gk)
Signifies not understanding (a negative to perceiving or understanding; blockage), Thoughtless; It signifies senseless; An unworthy lack of understanding; Sometimes it carries a moral reproach and describes one who does not govern his lusts by truth

Here are a few other passages that use that same Greek word.

1 Timothy 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
Galatians 3:1-3 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

This word, foolish, was always used in a reproachful manner. “You have not done the right thing.” “You have been foolish.”

In this day and age, we must look in a Greek lexicon to get the real import of the statement directed to these two men, by Christ. Let me tell you, these men spoke Greek and they did not need to look up anything to understand the rebuke of Christ.

Christ said that one of the main reasons that they did not understand the Spiritual significance of the events of the past week or so was because they were slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had written.

Slow of heart(gk)
Inactive; Unprofitable; Heavy; Sluggish

Christ’s rebuke was strong and sharp. Christ said that these two possessed an unworthy lack of understanding, and in the same breath He said that their belief structure was inactive, unprofitable and sluggish.

This sharp rebuke came because these two men didn’t believe all that the prophets had spoken. I’m sure you know that these prophets referred to here were the ones in the Old Testament. Jesus said to these two men, that the reason they were so confused was because they did not properly know, understand, and believe the Old Testament.

At this point of time, not one word of the New Testament had been written. Therefore, our Lord started with the books of Moses and all the Prophets and expounded to them in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. Let’s go to God’s dictionary to see what real expounding is. This is sort-of coming in the back door to see what proper Bible study really is.

Expound (gk)
to interpret fully through intensive hermeneuo

That’s interesting! Now if we just knew what hermeneuo was, maybe we could do it too. Well, in modern English hermeneuo would look like hermeneutic. Now that cleared up everything, didn’t it? Hermeneutic is a code word used by theologians to impress all who hear them speak.

Hermeneutic (gk)
The study of methodological principles of interpretation and explanation of Biblical truth
Hermeneutic (in plain English)
The study of the general principles of Biblical interpretation.

If there is to be proper expounding of God’s word, there must be proper study of God’s word in preparation for that exposition. So, by looking at what God considers proper exposition of His Word, we can learn a great deal about proper Bible study methods. Actually, we didn’t need all those definitions, because Christ is going to demonstrate what hermeneutics, or expounding, really is.

Luke 24:25-27 Then He [Christ] said to them, O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

In the text of Luke 24:25-27 there are two big words: “all” and “all”. All the prophets and all the Scriptures. These are all inclusive. It is important when we study a passage in the Word of God to see that passage in harmony with the totality of all Scripture. But some will object saying that they don’t know the totality of Scripture. I’m sure that’s true, because none of us know the totality of Scripture. That is why Holy Spirit called it “growing in grace and knowledge.”

Bible study is a process; not a single event. As you study a portion of Scripture, you compare it with all the Scripture you know at that time—and continue to add to that knowledge. It is no shame to know only a little about the Bible, but it is a great shame not grow in the knowledge of the Bible.

Paul

Having said that, you must keep in mind if you are continually gaining more information of a subject it will mean that you must be ready to adjust your opinion of the subject, according to the new information. If you are not prepared to adjust your opinion, then you are declaring that you know the subject perfectly and there is no room for any more growth. Paul was talking about his quest to gain the knowledge of Christ, and he said:

Philippians 3:8 But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Even as Paul approached the close of his life, he said I’ve given everything to gain the knowledge of Christ. But even with that great effort, I have not attained that goal completely.

This is one of the prime rules of Bible study: you will never exhaust the depth of truth found in the Word of God. As a Bible student, you must be ready and willing change, or better put, grow in knowledge. Of course, if you grow, you will change.

We have many Christian who have not grown never grown (changed) in their belief and knowledge of God’s word since they were saved. Although none of us will ever gain the full totality of the Scripture, we are to live what we know. Whatever level of Bible knowledge we may have, we must live in that knowledge.

Philippians 3:16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

That means different people will be walking at different levels of knowledge: to the degree that they have obtained.

Emmaus Continued

Let’s continue on in the narration of this account of Luke 24, skipping a small portion. Later the same evening that Christ walked with the two men on the road to Emmaus, Christ enters the room where the Disciples are gathered.

Luke 24:4-49 0 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, Have you any food here? 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence. 44 Then He said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me. 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.

There is no way that we can take the time that is really needed to dig out the truths of this passage, so let me point out just a few, in passing. The disciples did not believe the reality of Christ’s presence or because of joy and marveling. Notice their reasoning of reality was blocked because of their emotions of the event -- joy and marveling. Emotions are a good motivator to practice what we know. However, high emotions can hinder or stop the learning process – especially of new or difficult information. Stop and think for a moment, what is the emotional atmosphere of most modern presentations of God’s Word? I’ll let you answer that on your own.

The best atmosphere for in-depth Bible study is quietness, apart from high emotions.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 Better is a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.
Isaiah 30:15 For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. But you would not,
Isaiah 32:17 The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
1 Thessalonians 3:11-14 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. 13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.

Once we have learned deep truths, then emotions will motivate us to live out these truths. But there is not much deep learning in the midst of strong emotions. We learn these deep things in quietness of emotion.

Christ reminded them that what happened was exactly what He had spoken to them while He was still with them. Christ points out once again that understanding comes from the totality of Scripture, not isolated portions—Law, Prophets and Psalms.

We should also note here that there must be a divine opening of our understanding before we can comprehend.

In Searching the Scriptures

Let’s look at one more conversation of Christ’s in which we see God’s directive for Bible study.

John 5:37-39 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.

Jesus was speaking to Pharisees here. They searched the Scriptures. They knew what the Bible said, but just knowing the Bible, does not mean you understand the deep truths of it.

Many of the major doctrines of Scripture are given or further established within a rebuke or a prophetic condemnation. The Jewish leaders were again trying to catch Christ so they could find something worthy of death in what He said.

Christ tells them why they have not nor cannot understand the truths of the Word of God. They had never heard God’s voice even though they memorized His word. They did not have His words abiding in them. They spent their time searching the Scriptures for the wrong reasons. They missed the point that all Scriptures testifies of Christ.

Let me point out one very good thing that is probably one of the greatest hindrances to real in depth Bible Study: Systematic Theology. In most cases, there is nothing wrong with systematic theology. It is instead the manner in which we use systematic theology.

Probably a more accurate statement would be “The hindrance comes from the way we worship systematic theology.”

Theology (American Heritage, 3rd ed)
The study of the nature of God and religious truth; Rational inquiry into religious questions; A system or school of opinions concerning God and religious questions.

I’m not against systematic theology, as a matter of fact I like it very much when used in a proper manner. More on that subject later on. We must keep in mind that any systematic theology is the opinions of some human or group of humans, often very good opinions. Systematic theology is not the ultimate and complete truth of the Word of God. If it is, then the Bible is wrong, because the Bible says those ways and truths are beyond the ability of humans to fully comprehend.

A Life Long Process

Paul said that he had been at this learning process most of his life, and he had not yet attained.

Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.

Look at the last part of verse 1 and verse 2. The writer makes a list of basic doctrines that we are to leave, or move from, and go on to fuller maturity. These are our foundation that we need to move from and on to deeper things.

  • Repentance
  • Faith
  • Baptisms
  • Laying on of hands
  • Resurrection of the dead
  • Eternal judgment

That is quite a list of systematic theological subjects. There is nothing wrong with these foundational subjects but we are not to spend the rest of life going over and over these things. Instead, we are to use these things as our foundation and launch out from them into deeper things. When we use systematic theology as anything but a launching pad to move into the deeper things of God’s word, then systematic theology gets in our way of further and greater knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Quite often, we hold the theology of humans in greater esteem than we do the Bible. A good test to see if we are guilty of worshiping manmade theology is:

Which do we know the best, the Word of God or manmade theology?

Which has the greatest influence over our belief structure, God’s Word or manmade theology?

Peter tells us of the importance of God’s word.

2 Peter 1:1-8 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Guidelines

The Holy Spirit – Comparing Spiritual with Spiritual

Now that we have some examples of study from scripture, I would like to present some guidelines for in-depth Bible study in contrast to a surface or devotional type study. We are talking about the study of truths that are beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend. Even an unsaved person can take the facts of the Bible and study them. You can memorize verses and chapters in the Bible. Yet the truths of the word of God are unfathomable.

Of course, the best place to go for a description of such a format is the Bible itself. We will begin there.

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 But as it is written:” Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. “ 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

For now, we need to see some facts that will prepare our minds to think in the realm of the deep things of God, not just surface information. First and foremost, before we can begin to study the depths of the Word of God, we must realize that human ability alone is incapable of perceiving the deep things of God. We cannot, by any human means, understand or even accept the deep things of God. However, it is possible to know, understand, and use the deep things of God. If that sounds like a contradiction, it is. It is a contradiction to the logic of humanity. God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. His thoughts are so far above our thoughts, it is impossible to understand them.

The Holy Spirit is God’s provision to help us understand deep things. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, then the He will use many of our natural abilities in the process. However, we cannot reverse that God given order and approach the deep things through the natural or human abilities. His ways are beyond our understanding.

The Holy Spirit, through a reference to the Old Testament passage, teaches us that human ability cannot perceive the deep things of God. No human on their own can or see or hear these deep things. No human on their own can, by emotions or the thought process, enter into the realm of these deep things. With these facts established, the Holy Spirit goes on to assure us that these deep things have been and can only be revealed by the Holy Spirit, Himself.

We have the deep things within the written Word of God and the Holy Spirit will reveal those deep things to us, if we surrender to His teaching ministry. The revelation of these deep things is more than just the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, as penned by holy men, but it is also the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, as He compares Spiritual with Spiritual.

The reality of this fact is indicated in the next verse and will be spelled out in more detail later in this passage. The Holy Spirit has a twofold part in this revealing process. First, the Holy Spirit oversaw and directed the writing of the Scriptures. That scripture has everything we will ever know about the deep things of God this side of eternity. Second, the Holy Spirit also indwells each Believer, and it is through Him that we might know these things that were provided by God. Please note that this knowing is conditional: “that we might know.”

Just because we possess the Scriptures or even have them memorized does not mean that we will know the deep things of God. Having the Scriptures and the indwelling Holy Spirit makes it possible for to know these deep things, if certain things happen within our lives. These certain things will be spelled out later in this passage.

Elements of Study

With these facts established in our minds, we can move on to see the actual format of in-depth Bible study. Please understand, there is no formula for in-depth Bible study. Each person had a different means of study, but there is a certain format within which your study must fit.

Review: Here are some major things that are paramount to our seeing and accepting God’s format for this special type of study:

  • Human technique and ability alone cannot cut it. We are very talented people, but we cannot on our own understand the deep things.
  • The Holy Spirit directed and caused the facts of the deep things to be written. Easy enough to understand.
  • One of the reasons the Holy Spirit was given to indwell the Believer was to make it possible for us to know the deep things of God. God wants us to know Him and has given us His Spirit so that we can.
  • The Holy Spirit will use our abilities and the word of God in the process.

There are different levels of truth taught in the Word of God (milk vs meat; elementary vs deep things; Etc,)

Bible study is a process not an event. We grow in grace and knowledge.

Our understanding of the truths of Scripture is dependent on our personal study and the study of others, through the Biblical Body principle

First Things First

Let’s look at some advice Paul gave Timothy.

1 Timothy 2:12-16 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

The verse on which we want to concentrate our thinking is verse 15, but every verse has a context, and the context brings many things to bear upon the verse that will aid in our understanding. The context illuminates the truths in the word of God and it confines the interpretation of the verse.

For right now allow the immediate context to illuminate the text and confine our interpretation of verse 15. Please note: there is more to the context of a passage than just the verses proceeding and following, but we will save that for another time.

1 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.

Notice once again, in contrast to what some teach, there are eternal consequences to our temporal actions. Verse 12 says “If we endure… we shall reign.” This reigning is not in the present, but sometime in the future with Christ.

Also in verse 12, “If we deny Him… He will deny us.” This has no reference to losing our salvation, because of some action on our part. Remember: use the context. In the context of verse 12 we are reminded that if we endure, we shall reign. No new or different information has been introduced that would change the subject. Therefore, this denial has reference to being denied the privilege of reigning with Him. This fact of reigning or being denied that privilege, is mentioned several other places in the New Testament.

Then in verse 13, we see a glorious fact of God’s essence.

1 Timothy 2:13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

Even if and when we are faithless, God stays true to His nature and is always faithful! Before we get to verse 15 and the part about becoming an approved worker, we are introduced to rewards and losses associated with our service for God, as a worker, and we are reminded of God’s almighty gracious nature in spite of our selfish nature.

The Holy Spirit sets the stage for what He is going to talk about in verse 15. In verse 14, notice what the Holy Spirit is not going to present in verse 15. This will confine us.

1 Timothy 2: 14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.

He is not going to talk about dickering over words, or the smaller parts of life. Verse 15 will also demonstrate that fact, but verse 14 is like a road sign warning us of what is just ahead and it is not the small aspects of the Word of God.

There are other places in Scripture which tell us that the smallest of the small are very important.

Matthew 5:18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

Even the smallest letters and the markings of those letters will be fulfilled. So, small things are important but the emphasis of 2 Tim 2.15 is not on the minute details but the broad spectrum. It is important to see this fact! So important that the Holy Spirit gave verse 14 to warn or inform us of that fact.

Both, the broad spectrum and smallest detail work together to give us the total picture of God’s revelation. However, if we do not have a good handle on the broad spectrum, more than likely we will use the small details improperly. Furthermore, if the small details are not kept properly within the total picture of the Word of God, that small detail will become the dominate factor in our thinking and actions and it will bring contradiction to the overall plan and revelation of God.

Matthew 23.23-30 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’

As we see from this passage, details are important, but they should not eclipse the greater picture. Both the detail and big picture must be used together, in harmony. Look at a fearful fact in verse 24! When we use the details in a wrong manner, we not only hurt ourselves, we become blind guides to others. Not a good position!!!

In spiritual life there are first things, and the first things must come first. Quite often when we do the first thing right, many of the other things automatically take care of themselves. Christ, talking to the Pharisees in Matt 23, said clean up the inside (first) and the outside will also be clean. Too often, like the Pharisees, we spend a great deal of time religiously fixing-up the outside, to fool others. Yet, if we spiritually cleaned up the inside of our lives, we would not have to do anything to the outside, nor would we need to try to fool others. Instead, others would see Christ shining through our lives. No matter how much we fix-up the outside of our lives to look spiritual, we will never be Spiritual until the inside is cleansed by confession and through His Word.

In like manner, in depth Bible study has some things that are needed first, otherwise anything we attempt will fall short of true revelation from the Holy Spirit. There are few very important passages of Scripture that shed a great deal of light on the matter of in depth Bible study.

Please understand, no one verse is more important than any other: all verses are the precious God-breathed love letter to humanity. However, some portions of Scripture give more light to one subject in the plan of God than others.

Motive and Purpose

2 Timothy 2:15-16 is one of those portions of scripture that give a great deal of light on how to study the Word of God

2 Timothy 2:15-16 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

Before we dig into the words that give insight to in depth Bible study, look at the motive and results of such a study:  to present ourselves approved of God. Sad to say, much—maybe even most – of what we do in the religious realm is to gain a small measure of approval from a person or a group of people. However verse 15 presents something that we can do to gain the approval of God, not to gain merit or status, but to gain the blessing of God.

So let me ask you a question: Why do you do what you do in the religious realm? Please don’t give one of those worn and tattered Sunday School phrases. Answer the question honestly, to yourself and God.

I constantly ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” Is it to meet a deadline? Some of the time. Is to solve problems? That is something I must do. Is it because it is my job? It is. These are all legitimate secondary reasons. But the main reason to study is to be approved by God. I should not be looking for approval from a person, a church, or this world, but approval from God alone.

Notice that we are to be diligent to present ourselves as an approved worker. The Holy Spirit is also talking about our service that falls within this approval of God.

So if you want yourself and your service to be approved of God, you must answer the question, Why? You must come with the proper motive. Why are you studying? Why are you serving? Why? Is it to obtain the approval of God or some human? If it is to gain the approval of God, then this verse has good news for you. If, on the other hand, your religious efforts are spent for anything other than standing approved of God, then your Spiritual standing is shamed instead of approved.

These matters are important. Your attentiveness and diligence in these matters will be a demonstration of how important you think these things are. God thinks they are so important that your approval as a worker by God is dependent on your diligence to these matters.

Our mental attitude toward Bible study should not be:

  • To become an expert of coming events (which is very popular, right now)
  • To prove someone else wrong (sad to say, this is a major reason for a great deal of Bible study)
  • To gain some Spiritual insight (whatever that is)
  • To obtain some mystical feeling (which we hope will make us feel like we are Spiritual)
  • To prepare a Sunday School lesson, sermon, etc.

Some or maybe even all of the above may result from proper Bible study, but they should not be the motive for Bible study. Our motive for Bible Study should be to become an approved worker of God. If we were to take a detailed study of this matter of Bible Study, we would find many other attitudes that are needed. However, this attitude of becoming approve of God as an unashamed worker, by rightly dividing the Word of Truth, is the base or foundational attitude of all Bible study. If we have this attitude and seek to consistently rightly divide the Word, we will see and adopt the other attitudes in the process.

The Body Principle

Function of the Body

Few have the ability, the training, or the time to engage in the type of study described here to the fullest. That does not mean that we are to ignore this type of study. As a matter of fact, all study should be guided by these principles, even though we may not be able to give a great deal of time to in depth study.

In depth study takes hours. No one member of the body can provide all this is needed for itself or the body, as a whole. Each member of the body is dependent on all other members for nourishment and function. Remember, in Christ we are a body, and the function of one part of the body is different than the others. Yet, all functions are for the benefit of all the body. The function of one member of the body is to benefit the others. No one person is to do all functions, in equal intensity. Look at an event in the first church, and I believe it will help our understanding in this matter.

Acts 6:1-7 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose…(men) 7 And the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

If some were going to give themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word, obviously, others were not giving as much time to these matters. That does not mean that any in the body are excused from prayer and the ministry of the word. It simply means, that in a body, not all parts can do the same thing as every other part all the time. There are degrees of intensity in each function within the Body, and the benefits of the ministry of one is to benefit all.

This Biblical concept of the Body function of the church needs much more time, but time is one very lacking commodity. I bring it up only to show that within the Body of Christ, to one extent or another, we must all rely on others for some of our Biblical information. Therefore, it is vital for that information to come from a trustworthy source. Even though each of us must rely on others for some our Biblical information, we are each responsible for whom we rely on and what we accept from them. That is one reason why it is so important that we each know how to study and participate, through study, in any information we accept.

Even though each member the body cannot continually give themselves to prayer and study, each member is commanded to pray and study. It is a matter of degree or intensity. Since not all can give a great deal of concentrated study time to the Word of God, those who do give themselves in that manner, do so for the benefit of the whole body of Believers.

Order in the Body

We see that fact in the book of Acts, as well as many other passages.

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain, and, The laborer is worthy of his wages. 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. 20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. 21 I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.

Once again, in this passage, we see there is a distinction between some who rule and labor in the word and doctrine and others who don’t. This distinction was not that these were more valuable or more important than others, but they had distinct roles different from others.

True Bible study is a real labor, and the labor must be directed to the word and doctrine, not the commentaries. Those who labored in the word and doctrine were to receive their livelihood from the ministry in which they were involved.

Don’t let that term “rule”, disturb you too much and certainly those who do rule must not abuse the term or use it improperly. The term has nothing at all to do with dictation or control.

Rule (gk)
To stand before in the sense of leading or attending to; With care and diligence to give guidance to and care for

Ruling in the church is not a quality of domination, but instead a guidance through the word of God and doctrine. The program of the church should be the teaching of the Word of God, so as to prepare Believers for the work of the ministry and to prevent them from being whipped to and fro by every wind of doctrine that blows by. Believe you me, in the religious realm there are many winds of doctrine. Some of these winds of doctrine might be considered religious tornados or hurricanes. These winds of doctrine do damage to the Body of Christ in a similar manner as the strongest wind storms do to earthly structures.

Oneness and diversity

Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Please note the emphases placed on the oneness of the church: “one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father.” There are all of these “one things”, yet each and every one of those things are in each believer. Therefore, the conclusion—all believers are equal in Christ. The Holy Spirit wanted us to hear and know that we are one in Christ. As soon as the Holy Spirit graphically presented the oneness of Believers in Christ, He shows the diversity of each Believer as to their function in the Body of Christ and our service.

Verses 5, 6 and 7 are filled with the oneness of our position in Christ. Then Verse 7 makes a U-turn in the presentation with that big three lettered word… “But.” It is in contrast to this oneness.

The Holy Spirit tells us there is also diversity, and only God can make these two opposites perfectly compatible!

Ephesians 4:7-13 but to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore He says: When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men … 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

To each Believer, who has received this great import of oneness from God, God gave to each diversities of gifts and uniqueness of service. However, this diversity and uniqueness of each Believer is so that the oneness, given by God, may continue and grow in its intensity throughout the entire Body of Believers. This different-ness of each Believer is so that all may be equipped for the ministry and the edifying of the total Body. This ministry of edifying, from this diversity, is to continue until all the Body comes to the unity of the faith and knowledge of God.

I wish that each of you could spend hours just looking at this passage and examining the interplay of oneness and diversity within the Body of Christ. Then after many hours in this passage, I wish you could spend another day or two crisscrossing through the Scriptures, comparing the many references to unity and diversity. If each could engage in such an exercise, I’m sure it would drive us to our knees in repentance for our self-centeredness that brings such destruction to the Body of Christ both worldwide and in our local congregations. I often wonder what we could do if we had the unity God is talking about here.

That is one of the problems with trying to do a subjective study throughout the Word of God. To do such a study, one must go to numerous passages to substantiate the subject. Each of those passages is so rich! It is hard to just use some of those passages as reference point and move on. But we must move on.    

Paul goes on to conclude his statements in this way.

Ephesians 4:14-16 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ -- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

This is Oneness!

An Example from Berea

Study is one of the functions of the Christian life. It is the way we feed on the Word of God. It is the way we grow in our Spiritual life. It is the way we increase our faith. It is the way we partake of God’s divine nature on a daily basis and much more. Therefore, personal study of God’s word is an absolute necessity.

The proper study of God’s word does not mean that each member of the body must spend twelve hours a day before a computer and devouring twenty-five open books. Proper Bible study does mean that each member of the body knows how to study and has enough proper information so that they can separate true and false teachings. Too many of us are not at that point.

The church at Berea illustrated this fact. They searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true.

Acts 17:10-11 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair- minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

Notice, they did not search to try and prove Paul wrong. Nor did they search to justify their own beliefs. They went looking for truth.

Finding Answers to our questions

We each need to have a working knowledge of the Word of God. We must also be very careful on whom we rely for the continual ministry of prayer and the Word as we saw in Acts 6 and elsewhere.

Today we have books galore. We have the internet. We have radio. There are numerous sources from which we can gather all kinds of information. All of those can be good. However, if you are going to use resources and do not have a solid foundation, you will be whipped around by the many winds of doctrine floating around. The world climate is ripe for many winds of doctrine, and many believers are caught up in this whirlwind.

Matthew 24: Is this the end of times?

Matthew 24:4-14 And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

The airways are currently buzzing and the internet is aflame with parts of this passage and other similar ones. Of course, each windy presentation is a little different, but there is a common thread through most of them. They say “Look at the hurricanes! Look at the earthquakes! Look at the bombings and the threats of bombing! Look at the current plagues!” And the list is almost endless.

They go on to say, “These signs and many more prove that we are in the last days, and a great tribulation, like the world has never seen, is upon us!” They then go on to say, “Please send a generous contribution to me. If is in excess of so many dollars, and I send you my book and tape that will show you how you can endure to the end and be saved. Plus, if you read carefully the chapter on Name it and Claim it, I will show you how you can make a bundle through the great tribulation and not only endure it, you can become a billionaire.”

Okay, maybe I got a little carried away with my paraphrase of their claims, but you get the idea. The big problem with all this, is not that Believer send in gobs of money. (If Believer are dumb enough to send in money to this kind of thing, they are simply helping the speaker’s economy and hurting theirs.) The big problem is that much of what is being pawned off as Biblical, is anything but Biblical. When we fall for false doctrine, it is not our bottom line we are hurting, but it is our Spiritual wellbeing that is being crippled.

Please understand: I don’t know if we are in the final days of this Biblical age. Some of the things that are taking place, may be forerunners to the events described in the Scriptures, as happening in the last days. However, the Bible is clear that no one knows the day nor the hour when these things will take place. So when someone tells me they know from Scripture that these are the so called last days, I know that they don’t know what they are talking about. I shut them off there – that is it.

The pet phrase is “These things taking place are signs that clearly point to the last days!” Others are so blatant as to say that what is happening in the world today are the events described in Revelation and elsewhere.

Matthew 12:38-39 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, Teacher, we want to see a sign from You. 39 But He answered and said to them, an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Ouch! We are not to be looking for a sign. Instead we are to be looking to the Son! We are to be diligent in rightly dividing the Scriptures and enthusiastically seeking to obey the truths we find through that proper division of Scripture.

The very last thing that the apostles ask the Lord had to do with this very subject. And almost the very last thing that Christ told His Apostles set the record straight.

Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?

Surely God would want his closest disciples to know His plans! Look at Christ’s response.

Acts 1:7-8 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Our focus should not be on the signs, but the Son. When the Apostles got that message, they truly became witnesses. However, the Jewish leaders to whom Christ gave such a stinging rebuke did not change. They continued to seek after a sign.

Matthew 24: Explained by deeper study

Please allow me to answer the question that has been asked many times over, since the time of Christ:

“Are the things taking place in the world today are the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Last Days?”

To answer the question, let’s do a mini in-depth Bible study. Obviously, we cannot do a complete study of the subject of the end times, nor can we even take a complete study of Matthew 24:7, which seems to be the theme verse for much of the present confusion.

First, we must understand that the Bible uses the word “Last Days” to describe both the closing days of the Church Age and the closing days of the Jewish Age. We must first determine which He is talking about.

Matthew 24:4-8 And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Part of an in depth study must be a word study.

The Greek word or the parts of the Greek word translated various in the NKJV & NIV and diverse in the KJV is kind of a hard one to get your arms around, because it is used in so many different ways

Three English words are used by most when translating this word from Greek: various, diverse, and manifold.

Look at a few passages where that word or its derivative is used, or where that word is used in combination with other words

1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

The “manifold grace of God.” God’s grace is abundant! Not just an isolated happening now and then, or even several time in a year, but His grace is always abundant.

Matthew 24:7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

The word has no reference to the strength of the individual events (earthquake, pestilent or famine) but instead, the overwhelming presence of these things.

By the structure of the phrase, it is not saying that there will be pestilences and then earthquakes. Instead, there will be all of these things happening all at the same time or in rapid order. As of yet, no such destruction is happening in the world or even in one country.

Furthermore, if you have studied the eschatology of the Scriptures, you know that the period of time referred to Matthew 24:7 is 3 ½ years or less. This reference only makes a brief mentions of the calamities that will befall the earth in a period of 7 years, most of which will happen in about 3 ½ years. Let’s look at Scripture rather than the so-called signs and see a hurried description of some of these happenings. These passages show only a small fraction of the death and destruction that will happen in a 3 ½ period, if we are in the last days.

Revelation 6:7-8 When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

Revelation 6.7 says over one fourth of the earth will die. We have seen some major catastrophes lately, but nothing near the scale discussed here. Let’s continue.

Revelation 6:12-17 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake [a world-wide earthquake]; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?

The things spoken of in this passage are seen felt throughout the world. Mountains and islands were moved. These were not isolated events. Has this happened yet?

Revelation 8:3-5 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. And he was given much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.

Have you experienced an earthquake that the whole world felt?

Revelation 8:7 The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

Has this happened yet? We’ve had some pretty bad droughts recently, but nothing like what is described here. Our weather has cycles and we see them as unique, but they are not. Can God use these cycles for His purpose? Absolutely. But our currently weather cycles are nothing compared to the events of Revelation.

Revelation 9:2-6 And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. And the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. 3 Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. And their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6 In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

No evidence of this yet. These things will happen, but this is not happening now.

Revelation 16:8-11 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. 10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. 11 And they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.

This has not happened yet. Are the events of today leading up to these things? I do not know. In his time, almost 2,000 years ago Paul thought it was close. It has yet to happen.

Last Days

God does give us a sign of the last days. These are not signs of the last days, these are things that happen in the last days.

1 Timothy 3:1-5 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

If you want to know something about the last days, look at 1 Timothy 3.1-5. These things are easy to see.

1 Timothy 3:6-7 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Never in history has so much information been available to the church as today. There are books, internet articles, TV and radio programs. We are always learning but somehow never quite get to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 3:10-11 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra -- what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.

We are to carefully walk during these times as Paul did. And notice verse 12:

1 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

If we live Godly, we will certainly suffer persecution. We know we are in for some rough times if we desire to serve God. These things we know. We do not know about the storms, and earthquakes, and famines described in Revelation. We’ve seen nothing like that in our time.

If we were to follow these few events, we’ve looked at today, it would keep us busy for a year or more. However, if you have some idea of the totality of the Scriptural plan, you won’t be drawn into all the winds of doctrine that are floating around today.

If you don’t have a good foundation in the totality of Scripture, more than likely you will find yourself being blown along by some of those doctrinal winds. Make sure you have a good foundation of the totality of Scripture so you will not be frozen with fear concerning these coming events. You will know what will happen in the last 3 minutes of the game. I’ve read the book and I know what is going to happen in those last minutes and it is not all bad. Let’s take a quick peek.

Revelation 20:15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

That’s bad news for some.

Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

That is really good news! And here is more good news.

Revelation 21:3-5 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, Write, for these words are true and faithful.

That is what we should be looking for: not the signs, but the Son! God did not give us the signs so that we would know what was coming to pass. God gave us the signs so that we would know what He was going do in grace for us!

Revelation 21.6-7 And He said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

I may not have much on this earth, but someday I will gain an inheritance of all things. But notice the condition: “he who overcomes.” That is what we should be looking for!

The Holy Spirit and Scripture

In our brief examination of in depth Bible Study methods, we have established that we cannot understand the truths of the Word by natural or human means alone. There are different levels of truth taught in the Word of God: milk vs meat; elementary vs deep things, etc. Bible study is a process not an event (grow in grace and the knowledge). The Holy Spirit has a twofold ministry in our having and knowing the truths of God: The giving of the Word through inspiration and His teaching ministry in each life through comparing Spiritual with Spiritual. Our understanding of the truths of Scripture is dependent on our personal study and the study of others, through the Biblical Body principle

I Corinthians 2:9-12 But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

Even though there is no way of knowing the deep things of God through natural means alone, God has provided the twofold ministry of the Holy Spirit, so that we can know the things freely give us by God.

That twofold ministry of the Holy Spirit involves the personal supervision of the penning of the Word of God, referred to as the inspiration of the Scriptures. That was a past ministry, never to be expanded, at least not this side of eternity.

However, as we saw from verses 11-12, there is another ministry of the Holy Spirit that is ongoing, even at this present time, and until the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The function of this present ministry of the Holy Spirit is not spelled out in this passage, but simply stated. Verse 12 tells us that one of the reasons we received the Holy Spirit was that we might know the things freely given to us by God. By the context in verse 10, we see that impact of this particular ministry of the Holy Spirit. That impact within the life of a Believer is so we can know the deep things from God. God wants us to know Who He is.

The next verse states the technique the Holy Spirit uses to allow us to know the deep things.

1 Corinthians 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

If you want to know the deep things of God, then it is very important that you understand how God says you can know them: comparing spiritual with spiritual.

lf you are content to live your life off the surface of the Word of God and spend most of your religious life living in the cycle of highs and lows of physical emotions, then don't bother finding out how to know these things, and don't participate in the process prescribed by God. But if you want to know the deep things of God and live in them, read on.

If we isolated the last part of verse 13 from the totality of Scripture, one might think that while in some state of a meditational trance, the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual thoughts and compares them with other spiritual thoughts. But no one Scripture can be isolated from the whole of Scripture and be interpreted on its own merit. Let’s look at some other passages that describe this process.

2 Peter 1:19-21 We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy (single portion) of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

This is one of several key passages as to how we can, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, prepare our minds to learn and receive the deep things of God. Our minds on their own cannot receive the things of God.

To understand the real implication of this passage, look at how the Holy Spirit through Peter used the words prophetic and prophecy. In verse 19, He points out that we have prophetic word, a reference to the total Word of God. In verse 20, He uses the phrase no prophecy, indicating that within the total are many single prophecies or single portions. In verse 21 he uses the word prophecy in a different way as it refers to all the information written by holy men. In other words, the individual prophecies are all brought into one package as they were moved by the Holy Spirit and has reference to the entire word of God. We have a total body of spiritual proclamation: one singular proclamation. It is not many individual and separate proclamations.

Let’s keep in mind the context of what Peter is saying. Read what he said earlier this passage.

2 Peter 1.2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue [where do we get this knowledge?], by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

He wants us to grow in grace and knowledge and also to escape corruption. To do this they needed to have confidence in (to know) the Scriptures.

1 Peter 2.16-18 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

Here he is talking about what the apostles had written and why it could be trusted. The apostles didn’t use cunningly devised fables. These things are seen; these things are real, these things are true. They were written by eyewitnesses.

Not only do we have this testimony, we have the entire prophetic word as stated in 2 Peter 2.19-21. Peter says this gives us confidence that what he says is true.

The prophetic word of God is not made up of a collection of writings of many good men. The prophetic word is only one complete presentation given by the Holy Spirit. Different men wrote down what and only what the Holy Spirit directed them to write. The total prophetic word is one complete presentation and continuous thought made up of many parts, but all from one person: the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we must make sure that any one of those parts fit perfectly within the total.

If you are to have an understanding of any one part of the Bible, it must be seen in the totality of the whole. There is not one who can read through the entire Bible and perfectly associating every verse in perfect harmony with all other verses. This is why we need the mind of Christ and the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will teach, but He does not transfer the facts of the word of God to our minds without effort on our part. You cannot put the Bible under your pillow at night and hope to absorb all that is in it while you sleep. It will not work. All you might get is an ache from the lump under your pillow!

Often when a person first sees the truth of the oneness of scripture it is overwhelming. They say they will never grasp the truths of the word of God.

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…

Paul tells us there is nothing more important to him than the excellence of the knowledge of Christ. But he hasn’t obtained that yet. Paul was willing to give up all things for this knowledge, but even near the close of his life he tells us he hasn’t finished this goal yet.

Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul continues with instructions for us as we go through this process also.

Philippians 3:15-16 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

We should strive to obtain this ultimate knowledge, but during that long process of acquiring that knowledge we are to walk according to what we already know as we keep striving for that goal.

Jigsaw Puzzle

There are three things we need to enter in to growth process.

  • We must understand the Bible is a unit – not just a compilation of many religious writings.
  • Understand that all the Bible is the literary work of one person. It has been penned by many people, but it is the work of one: the Holy Spirit
  • No one passage can be understood by just the facts of that verse, but must be seen in light of all of Scripture.

God could have downloaded the facts of the Bible into our brains at birth. Instead He chose to give us the facts we need through the written word. In order to get those facts into our minds, we must read or hear them. As we take those facts in, they should be viewed as a part of the whole of scripture. They are one total thought.

The Big Picture

One way to prepare your mind for this ongoing task is to think of the Bible as a jigsaw puzzle. It is the complete picture that we are striving for. In a jigsaw puzzle, we are not really interested in each individual puzzle piece except to find out where that piece goes in the big pictures.

Likewise with the word of God. Before we can see the whole picture, there is a lot of work to be done. There are many times we see a quick glimpse and sometimes even the total picture. Those glimpses are like looking at the box top to see how it should look, then we go to work. The total picture of God and His plan were given by the Holy Spirit a little at a time. One piece here, one piece there. Each of these pieces are interesting and we can learn a great deal from each piece, but those individual pieces do not give us a view of the total picture, they are just a small part and dependent on the rest of the pieces.

If we try to construct a total doctrine around just one of those pieces, it would be incomplete at best will more than likely turn out to be a false doctrine. When the Holy Spirit gave us the word, he did so over about 1400 years using about 40 different authors and even those men did not fully understand it. Peter tells us they searched diligently to find out what they were prophesying about.

1 Peter 1:10–12, Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.

Even with the intense effort of the prophets, they only discovered that it was not for them, but for future people. That would be us. The things concerning this salvation has been revealed to us! (1 Peter 1.3-9) Even the angels desired to understand these things but could not until the proper time.

Remember, the prophets did not have all the pieces yet. We have now been given those pieces that pertain to salvation. We also have the indwelling teacher, the Holy Spirit. We have all we need to understand salvation.

A few things must be in place before the Holy Spirit will teach the deep things of God.

  • The believer must acquire the facts.
  • He must strive to put those pieces together in that puzzle.
  • He must be willing to surrender to the teaching methods of the Spirit.

These things are not easy. The Bible tells us that not many will endure sound doctrine. Many people do not want to know the truth. They are satisfied with the good feelings they get from what others say about the word of God, but really don’t want to know the truth.

John 16:12-15 “I [Christ] still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

Christ was about to end His earthly ministry and leave this earth. There were many things He wanted His disciples to know, but at that time they were not able to bear them.

We need to understand that word “bear.” In this verse it is a negative.

Bear
not able to support or able to pick up the burden.

The English word bear, and a similar Greek word, is also used in another place:

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Here God gives us something that we may be able to “bear.”

During this time, the disciples had many facts. In addition to those facts, there were many deeper things Christ wanted to give them, but they would not be able to understand it and carry on. Now Christ was their teacher. You can’t get any better than that, can you? He could teach truth to anyone, right? Well, God in His sovereignty has limited what He is willing to do with man. (This is a matter of grace, but that is a different lesson for a different time.)

Christ goes on to explain how the disciples will be able to bear these things in the future and even to know deeper things. The Holy Spirit will come.

John 16:13-15 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

When the Holy Spirit indwells them, He will guide them. Notice it is an indwelling ministry, not an implanting ministry. Jesus told them something else about this process.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

How can something be brought to remembrance? It had to be put there in the first place! We must take in the word of God for the Spirit to bring it to our remembrance. If you don’t know His word, He has nothing to work with. (He also illuminates passages as we read on it and meditate on them.)

Remember that the Spirit teaches us by comparing spiritual with spiritual.  We must know the scriptures in order for the Spirit to have something to compare it with.

One Piece at a Time

Remember that jigsaw puzzle? We have all the pieces of that puzzle. They are in a box called the Bible.

We don’t dump them out and begin to sort by color and shape. But as we read and study we find a truth: a piece of the puzzle. We become familiar with that piece. Draw from that piece all the spiritual food you can and look at that piece carefully to see if it fits with any other pieces you have found. If it does, place it.

After you have several pieces that fit together, you may see an image there. This is the start of what we call a doctrine. Keep finding pieces and grouping them together with others that look similar and soon we will begin to see the picture. The interesting thing about a puzzle, those pieces only fit one place. If you put them in the wrong place, they keep you from finding the proper places for the other puzzle pieces.

If you can’t find a match for a piece, put it aside for now. As you study further, you will eventually find a match. Don’t become exasperated with this process. If you become exasperated, you will have a tendency to give up. This process will take a lifetime, but as time passes the picture will grow brighter and clearer. Remember the Apostle Paul had not finished his puzzle as he approached the end of his life, but he still kept pressing toward that goal. (Phil 3.7-16)

And don’t forget why we are studying in the first place.

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

We must approach Bible study with the overall purpose to be approved of God as a worker who has no need to be ashamed. That approval comes by rightly dividing the word of truth.

Moving Beyond Milk

It is a struggle to get the arms of our understanding around the deep things of God. We all want a shortcut, a simple answer we don’t have to work hard to find. That is not how God’s word works. That is not a put down to the surface information of Scripture, or to the milk of the Word of God. However, God does not want us to simply stay with the milk in our growth in grace and knowledge.

Hebrews 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

In verse 13, the word babe means baby, infant. God does not want us to remain a baby in relation to His word. Rather, He wants us to mature to full age and move on to solid food.

1 Peter 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

Here Peter is writing to newborn babes in faith. The milk of the Word is primarily the starter menu for those who have not grown and matured enough to dig their Spiritual teeth into the meat of the Word. If you are not a baby in faith, you need more than milk.

I would assume that a person could exist on only milk, but they could not develop properly and probably would be weak and sickly. Tragically, I fear that most Christians are only in the milk stage, and as a result, their Spiritual nutritional needs are not being met. Therefore, they run hither thither and yon looking for something— anything that will make them think that they are grown-up Christians.

This fact is a problem in the Christian world today. For a generation or two we have been presented with the fallacy that Spiritual maturity is some sort of a feeling. Don’t get me wrong, feelings are involved in the Christian life. The mature Christian will have a great emotional response to life, but emotions are not the substance of Christian living.

For years, much of the leadership of today’s churches have grown-up striving for this feeling, and teaching those under their Spiritual charge to look for a feeling also. Oftentimes they are taught in schools to evaluate their walk through feelings. Therefore, the emphases of many church services and programs teach the members to grow-up through feelings.

However, God said over and over again that Spiritual growth comes from the deep Spiritual facts or food from the Word of God, translated into godly behavior in our everyday living.

As long as the church continues on this trip of emotional highs and lows, we will not see many real mature Christians, or Christians in the image of Christ.

The Scripture Provides All

Look at what the Holy Spirit said should come to the Believer through the totality of the Scriptures. Contrary wise, let’s also see what the Holy Spirit said will happen and why it will happen. Please read and carefully consider the following passage.

2 Timothy 3:16-4.5 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

All (gk)
all, the whole, everyone.

The Greek word for “all” means all. That’s simple, isn’t it? This is the same exact Greek word translated in John 3:16 as whoever or whosoever, indicating that Christ died for the totality of the human race, not just a select group.

Certainly, every part of the Scripture is inspired. However, the implication of that little word all is magnanimous. This all points to why some have an improper attitude towards the Word of God and its instructions and others have a quiet steady growth toward Spiritual maturity.

Too often, we get hung up on the fact of inspiration and as a result we miss the importance of the rest of the passage. Please, do not think for one moment that I am degrading the inspiration of Scripture, at all. However, there is much more in this passage than just the mention of inspiration. So don’t let this wonderful truth of inspiration detour your thinking from the totality of what the Holy Spirit presents in this passage: All Scripture is inspired and all Scripture is profitable that the Believer can be properly equipped for every good work.

Stop and think a moment with me. The Bible is clear here and in many other passages, that all Scripture is sufficient to equip the Believer for every good work. There is nothing else we need.

Even in this brief study we have seen several passages, and there are many more, that tell us that the totality of Word is all we need to be properly equipped to live and work for Christ. We need all of Scripture for every good work. There is nothing else we need. We are to use that equipping to transform and conform our lives into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why it is important that we know it.

2 Peter 1:1-8 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ, through the knowledge of Christ and through the promises of Scripture, provides all things that pertain to life and godliness. He also provides a constant partaking of God’s divine nature and an escape from the corruption and lust of the world. Could you ask for more?

With such provision why would a Christian go running to every new fad that comes on the religious scene in a futile attempt to gain the very things provided by God’s grace? There is one simple answer to that question of why. If you are a Christian trying out all the new fads, instead of giving yourself to systematic Bible study on your own and through the church, it is because you do not believe what the Bible says! We’ve looked at three passages that say this same thing (there are more); why do we not believe it?

Christians stand in amazement that the unsaved do not accept what the Bible says about salvation when it is so clear and simple and easy. But even more amazing is that Christian do not accept and apply what the Bible say about Christian living.

All Scripture is Profitable

Let’s take a deeper look at 2 Timothy 3.16.

2 Timothy 3:16-4.5 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Please note in the 2 Timothy 3 passage, that all Scripture that is in focus here, not just a passage or two. Certainly, every individual passage plays a part in this matter, but to see the overriding principle we must see that the thrust of this passage is “all the Scriptures”. This principle should overshadow everything that is stated in this passage until the Holy Spirit changes the subject.

Don’t let the chapter division blind you. Those divisions were not in the original text. Helpful humans put those divisions there, and sometimes those divisions come right in the middle of an important thought. That is certainly the case in this passage.

The Holy Spirit has been talking about the quality of all Scripture. All Scripture was inspired by God: that is the quality. He also talks about the benefit of all Scripture for the equipping of Believers for every good work. If what the Holy Spirit said so far is true, and it is, then why would any honest believer look any other place to find the proper equipping for the Christian life?

Remember, we are doing a proper Bible study, not simply looking for a talking point or a devotional thought. Therefore, through this honest Bible study, we have seen two areas that are impacted by the totality of Scripture:

  • All Scripture is inspired by God.
  • All Scripture is profitable so a person of God can be properly equipped.

I realize I have written this numerous times, but I am hoping that you thoroughly understand these points.

The Holy Spirit is going to add some other areas that are impacted by all Scripture. Remember this is still the same thought.

The Charge to Timothy

Paul gives much instruction to Timothy regarding life and ministry.

Let’s pick apart his charge to Timothy as we dig deeper into the word.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach [ALL] the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Notice in verse 2, Paul charges Timothy to “Preach the Word:” all the Word. This charge is before God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We should take a closer look at some of the words in this passage to make sure their meaning is clear.

Before

2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom…

 “Before” is an indication of the position of Paul, as he gave this charge.

Before
literally in the face of God and Christ

Therefore, the charge is obviously recognized and approved by both Christ and the Father. Not only is this charge approved by Christ and the Father, but Christ will judge how this charge was fulfilled and the quality of the keeping of that charge. By the way, for those who think that what we do here and now has little consequence in eternity, here is one of many passages that dispels such a false teaching: you will be judged at His coming.

Charge

2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:

This is indeed a powerful charge, but maybe we should know what a charge is.

Charge
an intensified form of the Greek word marturomai

That’s an exciting definition, isn’t it? More simply, it is from the root of this Greek word martus that we get our English words witness and martyr. When a witness testified, he stood as a martyr or at least as a potential martyr. Witnesses in that day were to tell the truth or they would die, at least that was the way it was supposed to have been. But their society and their politics were equally as corrupt as ours and it was only acted upon when it benefited the ones in power.

Paul, however, used the word in the sense of its meaning here, and tells Timothy that he is called as witness (potential martyr) of all the Scriptures and this charge was made before Christ and the Father. The honest performance of that charge would be judged by Christ at His appearing and in His kingdom.

Endure Sound Doctrine

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine

God’s word is inspired by God: they are God’s thoughts. But people will not endure His words (sound doctrine.) We will, however, endure man’s thoughts, words, and ideas. Just look in your local Christian bookstore or listen to many sermons in today’s churches. Much of man’s thoughts are being taught in our churches today. We will take those human thoughts in, but we do not want God’s thoughts for our own (Romans 1-2).

Endure [2 Tim 4:3] = (Greek) Hold up under the pressure of possessing (the doctrine)

Once we have true doctrine, it demands we do something. That is pressure! If we don’t do it, it brings greater pressure.

What does sound mean?

Sound (gk)
to be whole, complete in health

Even though we have everything we need to be complete, we do not want that. Paul says men will live according to their own desires (emotions, wants). They will turn to those who will give them what is pleasing to the human ears, instead of whole and healthful doctrine. They will turn away from doctrine and turn to fables, a false narrative that is mysterious in tone.

Be Watchful

2 Timothy 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Watchful (gk)
Abstain from wine; Figuratively, to be sober or calm in the ministry of the word

Paul tells Timothy to be watchful in all things. “Things” was added by the translators to help us understand. Quite often when the translators do so, it is helpful but there are times, like this one, when it is not! The Holy Spirit has not been talking about things in this passage. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul has been talking about one thing and one thing only. He has been addressing the proper use and some abuses of all the Scripture that was given by inspiration of God, for the full and proper equipping of Believers for every good work. Be watchful!

Endure afflictions

2 Timothy 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

In contrast to those in verse 3 who will not endure or hold up under the pressure of possessing the totality of the Word of God.  Timothy is to be prepared to endure affliction, because he is presenting the totality of the Word of God.

The Greek word for endure here is different than the Greek word used in verse 3.

Endure [2 Tim 4:5] (gk)
to go under worthless hardships

Do the work of an evangelist

2 Timothy 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Evangelist (gk)
A messenger of good; Denotes a proclaimer of good news from God, which makes clear the distinctiveness of the functions of the church

A Short Review

In this passage we’ve seen many things and there is much more we did not examine, in any detail. As a matter of fact, we didn’t look at anything in this passage in any great detail.

Some of the things that we gleaned in our hurried study were:

  • All Scripture is: Inspired by God and profitable so that a person of God can be properly equipped. Therefore, preach the Word, all the Word
  • People would not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires (emotions, wants), they will turn to those who will give them what is pleasing to the human ears, instead of whole and healthful doctrine. They will turn away from doctrine and turn to fables (a false narrative that is mysterious)
  • Therefore, you Timothy, be watchful in all. Endure afflictions. Do the work of an evangelist.

I took you through this type of study, for several reasons. I wanted to show some the truths in the passage that relate to our subject of proper in- depth Bible study. Also, there is more to the context of a passage than just the text of all Scripture. We looked at the context of language and saw things we would not have seen otherwise. There also the context of history, geography, and customs which can be studied.

An ordinary believer can study the Word of God in-depth. You don’t have to have an intimate knowledge of the common Greek to do a word study of a passage. A simple computer Bible program with search abilities and a Strong’s Concordance is all you need. Even an old fashion printed Strong’s Concordance with dictionary will do the trick. It will take longer, but it will work. For this study, I consulted some other Greek lexicons, other than the Strong’s, but the same conclusions could be drawn with just Strong’s.

Some may object, saying, I don’t have the time! We each have twenty-four hours in a day, seven days each week, and about thirty days each month. What if it took a whole month or even six months to do such a study, working just a little at a time? You would have done far more study than you would by saying, I don’t have time!

God didn’t say that you have a required time to engage in such a study. He didn’t say it had to be an hour every day or even once a week. I don’t believe the Bible says that there is a time limit on our study, or that we must cover so many chapters in a week or a lifetime.

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The key factor is not how much you cover in your study, but your attitude towards it: be diligent. And your method of doing it: rightly divide.

Yes, we all must rely on others for a great portion of our study aids. We looked at several passages that tell us of this matter. It is called the Body Principle. However, we are responsible for whom we rely upon for that information and the validity of the information we accept.

Acts 17:10-12 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair- minded [noble in action or attitude] than those in Thessalonica, in that they [as a body] received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.

Notice that they were prepared beforehand, they listened with all readiness, and afterward searched the Scriptures. Paul says “they.” They did this as a body. When they searched the Scriptures it was not to see if he was wrong, but to see if what he said jived with all Scripture. Knowing all Scripture is important!

Finding Time to Study

Let’s look at some the basic concepts and principles needed to accomplish this life time study that takes us into the depth of God’s word.

There will be times in your Biblical discovery process that you will find truth that will make you want to jump for joy. However, much of the time spent in such a study will be at best routine and at times simply an endurance contest. But aren’t the things of God are supposed to joyous? Yes, God did promise us joy inexpressible and full of glory. But if we are going to honest in the use of Scripture, we must see these promises in the context of God’s word, not the context of our own wants or desires.

Bible Study is Hard Work

Let’s take a moment to look at the context of this “joy inexpressible” that we think we should have.

Peter 1:6-11 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith -- the salvation of your souls. 10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

The joy mentioned in verse 8 is what we really want. This joy inexpressible and full of glory is in the context of suffering, having various trials, being tested by fire, etc. Christ said, if they hated me, they will hate you. The apostles said that we were called to suffer for Christ. Anyone who desires to live godly will suffer persecution. From these things comes our joy! Going through distressful things with the proper hope, found in knowing God’s word, brings joy inexpressible and full of glory.

Yes, we are to have joy, but that joy is not generated or driven by external pleasure and comfort. This Biblical joy is generated and driven by a personal knowledge of Christ through His word, and a living out of that knowledge through the difficulties of real life, with a true hope of the future.

When it comes to Bible study, it takes diligence and comparing Scripture with Scripture. There are other aspects needed in the overall study of the Bible, but for this study we will keep our concentration of these two things. If you even if you conquer these two aspect to some small extent, you will be well on your way to doing what God says.

Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

The Holy Spirit is required to understand God’s plan. You can memorize the entire Bible, but without the Spirit, you will not understand it. He uses what we take in to teach us.

Corinthians 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

A Jigsaw Puzzle

Let me suggest some methods and concepts mentioned in the Bible, some of them given in detail. One way to prepare your mind for the continuing task of Bible study, is to think of the Bible as a jigsaw puzzle. Without question, it is the completed picture that we are striving to see. However, before you can see the whole picture, there is much work to be done.

The total picture of God and His plan were given by the Holy Spirit in little pieces (single prophesies), over a long span of time. Each piece is interesting and fascinating and we can learn a great deal from each piece. But those individual pieces do not give us the view of the total picture.

If we try to construct the total doctrine of the Bible around that one piece of the puzzle, it will be incomplete at best and more than likely, it will turn out to be false doctrine. The Holy Spirit gave the many pieces of this divine picture puzzle over a period of about 1,400 to 1,600 years, and He used 40 different authors to pen those many pieces of this divine puzzle.

In dealing with our puzzle of Bible Study, the first thing we do is dump out all the pieces on the table to see what we are dealing with. We need to look at the facts and get them in mind so you can compare them.

We then begin to put similar pieces together. Maybe you find the flat sided outline pieces first to give you a framework for the rest. That is a great starting point.

After your framework is put together (or most of it anyway), see if you can find some other pieces that have similarities. Keep studying these pieces to see if they fit. You may not have all of them in the right place right now. That is okay. Keep working at it.

You will never finish this puzzle in your lifetime, but make sure you are living what you already know. That is the key and it is enough to keep all us busy right now!

Philippians 3:16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

Rightly Dividing

Timothy 2:12-16 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive [be disputative on trifles] about words to no profit, to the ruin [overturn or demolish] of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

Remember our definition for Rightly dividing.

Dividing (gk)
To keep on making a straight cuts or lines, in order to dissect correctly from a mountain or above the plain

We want to be persistent in our study. Keep looking for the answers to our questions. Keep adding those truths to your understanding.

Notice also what he says to avoid or what not to do.

Profane (gk)
To treat that which is holy as common and accessible; Accessible as simply crossing the threshold of a door way; That which is common not divine.
Vain (gk)
Empty fruitless discussion; Empty and void of results with special reference to quality.

We are to strive for deeper things of God, rather than the common things of the world or empty interactions. Strive to know more and more about Who God is! Systematic Theology can be a good thing, but it is just a starting point, it is not the finish. Keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Savior!

2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

Now why must this be so difficult? Why didn’t God just write a simple list of things we need to know?

Matthew 4:1-4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. 4 But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

The word of God is our food. We are to go back to it and chew on it. In that process of chewing we get our nourishment. It is not just knowing facts.

We all food in our pantry or refrigerator. But that food does us no good sitting in the pantry or refrigerator. We can even prepare so that the aroma fills our senses, yet it still does us no good until we chew and swallow it.  May Christians have a wonderful warehouse of information about the Bible but it does them no good if they do not chew on it daily. This is where the growth comes in!

You don’t have to have your Bible open to chew on it. If you know it, you can mediate on it.

Keep in mind that sometimes God allows difficulties in our lives so that we can remember that we live by every word of God.

Deuteronomy 8:3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.

Conclusions

In our brief examination of in depth Bible Study methods, we have established that we cannot understand the truths of the Word by natural or human means alone. The Holy Spirit has a twofold ministry in our having and knowing the truths of God: The giving of the Word through inspiration and His teaching ministry in each life through comparing Spiritual with Spiritual. There are different levels of truth taught in the Word of God: milk vs meat; elementary vs deep things, etc. Bible study is a process not an event (grow in grace and the knowledge). Our understanding of the truths of Scripture is dependent on our personal study and the study of others, through the Biblical Body principle.

The motive in our study should always be to be approved of God. We are to be diligent in rightly dividing the Scriptures and enthusiastically seeking to obey the truths we find through that proper division of Scripture.

As we grow in grace and knowledge, may God receive all the glory!

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